Tight deadlines and difficult family members – so stressful right?! Absolutely they are – but these aren’t the only causes of stress on the mind and body, not by a long shot.
Most of the time we only perceive the psychological causes of stress, however there are many different stressors we can pay attention to in order to tip the scales back in our favour.
April is stress awareness month and so I wanted to write a quick guide to understanding and managing stress holistically so you can feel more in control over your overall stress levels even if there’s not much you can do about a stressful job or relationship.
It’s important to understand that not all stress is bad. Exercise is a helpful form of stress for the body, for example. What’s more, we don’t want to be in our relaxation response state all the time (hint – we wouldn’t get much done!). However, when stress becomes chronic that’s when we start to see mental and physical health drastically decline.
Most of the time we only perceive the psychological causes of stress, however there are many different stressors we can pay attention to in order to tip the scales back in our favour. All of these internal and external stressors will trigger the sympathetic nervous system and potentially lead to chronic stress and inflammation, so they’re all worth looking into.
Negative mindset: Low self worth, constant negative self talk, pessimism – all of these can cause a huge amount of stress on the body. Working on mindset daily is really worth it for every level of health.
Stimulants: Why is coffee called a stimulant? It stimulates the stress response. Be aware of this if you have a highly dependent relationship with coffee. Learn more about why coffee just isn’t helping here
Poor nutrition: If you have no idea where to start with this, start eating and logging 30 different plant based foods a week. There’s no way that won’t dramatically improve the quality of your diet.
Tightness in the body: Can’t touch your toes? Back aching constantly? Your body does not like that. Not only is yoga great for psychological stress, productivity and teamwork, it’s great for reducing stress caused by tightness in the body.
Lack of sleep: We’ve said it time and time again, sleep is just essential for every level of wellbeing and without 7-8 hours a night, your stress levels will be creeping up.
Difficult circumstances: eg. trauma, job pressure, financial pressure, strained relationships, pandemics (!). This is the form of stress we all think of when someone asks ‘how stressed are you?’. There are many ways to cope with psychological stress, whether it’s through self-soothing practices like yoga or through getting professional support from a therapist or coach.
Environmental toxins: We can’t always control this, however we typically kit out our cleaning cabinet, bathroom and makeup bags with various toxic products. If you’ve not yet cleaned up your products, now is the time! Look out for parabens, sulphates, silicon, phthalates and perfume (go for products scented with natural essential oils). Not only do these chemicals increase stress in the body, they overload the elimination pathways and in some cases are highly carcinogenic.
Other environmental stressors: Loud noises, overly bright light, pollution (basically the London Underground) are forms of external stress and worth being aware of.
As you can see, stress is a little more nuanced than we might think. I take comfort in the fact that there are various areas I can work on to lower stress levels on a daily basis even when things feel difficult.
Well & Truly run one off or tailored wellbeing and productivity programs – if you’re curious how that could work for your team, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.